A controversial retail marijuana shop was approved by the Local Licensing Authority on Tuesday after passionate comments from neighbors.
Rocky Mountain High Recreational Center is slated to open at east 36th Street and north Main Avenue.
At least one board member admitted neighbors’ comments did raise questions about the owner’s moral character, but because he has not committed a felony, it is not within the board’s purview to deny his right to operate a business.
“He has been engaged in some unsavory behavior over time,” said Bob Ledger, one of the board members.
One neighbor, Elizabeth Salkind, told the board Michael Weisser’s track record as lawyer and a business owner was highly questionable.
One of his businesses, Rocky Mountain High Dispensary, was found to be out of compliance with covenants governing the building.
Weisser agreed to vacate the building after 2015 but later filed a land-use application with they city to expand his business, she told the board.
“It’s really pushing the limits of how you work and deal with your neighbors,” she said of Weisser’s actions.
She also outlined how Weisser was first suspended and then disbarred from practicing law in Florida because he was practicing without a license.
Weisser told the board he was granted a license to practice law in New York in 1966, and he had never had any problems in that state.
If a lawyer is disbarred in one state, it does not prevent them from practicing in another.
Other neighbors voiced concerns about the potential for the marijuana shop to bring increased crime and traffic to the neighborhood. Several highlighted the armed robbery that happened at Weisser’s current Rocky Mountain High location.
Ledger told neighbors’ the licensing board does not take questions about traffic and safety into consideration because those questions should be handled by the planning department staff before an applicant comes before the board.
Weisser said that robbery could have easily happened at any other business. He also said he holds 28 licenses to operate marijuana stores in Colorado, and he has never received a citation for violations.
He would not comment on questions from The Durango Herald.